New York State Funeral Directors Association

New descriptions and refined eligibility are among important changes at Arlington National Cemetery that followed a January, 2019 decision by the Secretary of the U.S. Army.

These changes, and an overview published on the cemetery’s website, provide important guidance for veterans looking to plan their funeral services in advance.

Located in Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington DC, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), opened in 1864.

This site serves as the final resting place of more than 400,000 veterans, service members and members of their family. Funeral Honors At Arlington

But with as many as 30 funeral ceremonies each day – more than 7,000 each year – changes are being implemented to make sure today’s veterans have the opportunity to be laid to rest alongside fellow service members years from now.

All service members killed in action or who earn the Congressional Medal of Honor – regardless of rank - are afforded the greatest level of funeral service at ANC: Military Funeral Honors With Funeral Escort.

These unique services require up to 100 support staff to conduct – limiting them to a maximum of eight per day.

The limitations have left families waiting as long as eight months to get the funeral scheduled and as long as an entire year before the burial of their loved one.

Under recent changes, rank will determine the level of funeral services retired veterans are eligible for.

Kerry Meeker, a spokeswoman at Arlington National Cemetery, said these changes are expected to cut down on waiting times that families endure.

And it will conserve resources by about one third, she said.

Military funeral services at ANC are not the same as those which take place at the 135 other National Cemeteries throughout the U.S., so these new guidelines apply only to Arlington National Cemetery.

Military Funeral Honors With Funeral Escort

As many as 100 people are involved in Military Funeral Honors With Funeral Escort.

This service includes a team of pallbearers, a firing party, a bugler to play Taps, the folding and presentation of the U.S. flag, an escort which varies depending on the service member’s rank; and a military band.

A caisson can also be brought in for the service, if requested, according to ANC.

Those eligible for Military Funeral Honors with Funeral Escort include senior non-commissioned officers and senior warrant officers; in addition to service members who receive the Congressional Medal of Honor or who are killed in action. Eligible ranks are as follows:

  • Sergeant Major
  • Command Sergeant Major
  • Chief Warrant Officer Four and Five
  • Major and above

Military Funeral Honors

This tier of funeral service at ANC includes a casket team – or pallbearers, a firing party, a bugler to play Taps and folding and presentation of the American Flag. Funeral Honors Fact Sheet from Arlington National Cemetery. Click to view or download.

It is the same service minus the escort and military band. The ranks of retired veterans eligible for this service are as follows:

  • Enlisted service members
  • Warrant Officer 1 through Chief Warrant Officer 3
  • Second-Lieutenant through Captain

Spouse and Dependent Honors

The spouses and eligible dependents of veterans can also be buried or inurned at ANC.

The military branch of that veteran’s service provides a casket team and military chaplain.

Find more details about military funerals on the website of Arlington National Cemetery.

Here is a link to the Arlington National Cemetery website: https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Funerals/About-Funerals

 


 

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association